Today I was due to be showing a friend of mine on my course the University Library. We’d both forgotten that we had a lecture first thing and so we went to it (and it was really interesting – on Christian views of deliverance ministry). After that, though, they got caught up in some community drama.
As a result they were frustrated and wanted to just head home and go to the library another time.
Why was it important to go to the library? Well for various reasons they haven’t been to the main university library because it’s big. Very big. And rather daunting if you’re not familiar with it! Yet I love the library. It’s where I write these posts and where I do most of my reading and essays.
I was sure that if I could get them in the front door they would overcome their fear and more than that, that they would love it.
I waited at a distance out of earshot but visible while they had their conversations. They tried to say that they would head home when they were done but I hung around and offered to walk them home (they live near me anyway).
I wanted to get to the library because I needed to write a report and get it sent in.
But I was patient and waited to see what would happen.
We went to their car and they offered me a lift to the library. I accepted, on the condition that they pop in with me and ‘dip their toe in the water’, as it were.
We ended up talking about their essay in the car, what kind of books they would need. And then they we walked and talked to the library.
Entering the foyer there was a barrage of noise and a commotion of students. The entrance area is a group study area where people can talk and hangout with friends.
My friend seemed a bit overwhelmed but I assured them calmly that this is the worst bit, and it’s not like this in the whole library. They took their card, scanned it and came through the turnstile.
I took them up the main staircase and their body relaxed as they looked around at the vaulted ceilings and the modern glass walls and the desks filled with quiet students and their books.
Theology books are on the top floor, so we walked along and I showed them my favourite corners to sit and work. Then there was the large windows with a clear view of the Cathedral. They loved it!
I showed them how to search for books and their jaw dropped when they realised how many rows of books were just theology books. We found the right aisle. The motion sensor lights clicked into life and I pointed to the relevant shelf. As their eyes spotted the sheer number of books on their topic a grin shone on their face.
I left them to it for a bit. There was no rush.
Patience was key.
When they were ready, I showed them how to check out their books and we left to get a coffee.
They were excited, they will come and spend the day in the library on Wednesday they decide.
Sometimes our desires are matched with fears.
To be helped, or to help, can require someone else to take some time to gently encourage us to achieve what we want to despite our fears.
“You know what, Sam? I’ve been meaning to go in there for weeks! But I kept putting it off. Oh, I love it in there. It feels like actually being at University, you know? I’ll be doing a load of essays over the summer and I’ll come here and find my own corner and get some books and get studying, and writing! What a great place!”
I sat down to work in the library an hour or so later than I’d intended, but I’ve finished my report and now written this.
A little bit of patience doesn’t cost much, and can encourage someone else to become more than they thought they could be by themselves.
That’s worth it.